Jan 26, 2023 - News

Intergenerational cohousing coming to Oak Park

Building rendering

Photo courtesy of Oak Park Commons.

The state's first intergenerational cohousing building, designed to mingle families of all ages, is set to break ground this spring in Oak Park.

Why it matters: The development at Carpenter Avenue and Madison Street, called Oak Park Commons, finally brings this eco-conscious, communal living style to the urban Midwest — as opposed to just the coasts and college towns.

  • The intergenerational aspect helps with child care, elder care and promotes "a sense of belonging," organizers say.

What's happening: Ten founding families have already signed up for a condo in the 24-family development, but organizers are seeking at least five more to make the project more economically stable.

  • The future tenants will move into the building in summer 2024.

How it works: Applicants accepted to buy a unit in the building must be willing to share resources, living spaces, meal making and chores that help reduce assessment fees.

  • Adult tenants should expect to do "8 to 10 hours of work per month," according to the website.
  • A 2-bedroom, 1-bath unit currently starts at $367,000 or $424,000 for 2 bathrooms. One and 3-bedroom units are also available.

What they're saying: I like "the social aspect and the idea of 'extra good neighbors,'" future tenant Sheila Flaherty tells Axios.

  • "An equally appealing factor is living more ecologically responsibly by sharing resources and living in a building with energy-efficient features."
  • Ideal applicants, she says, would be "people who are not individualistic and who enjoy socializing and helping others."

The intrigue: Flaherty says they're "attracting people from other states because of our location close to the city and/or because they grew up here or still have family here."

Quick take: Former Chicagoan Katherine Nagasawa tells Axios she loves the Oakland cohousing building she joined with her husband a year ago.

  • "We've formed many genuine friendships with our neighbors over patio hangouts, board game nights, and activities like pumpkin carving. There are other couples, single older folks, single-parent families, etc., and it’s been nice to have so many different models for what family can look like.
  • "It's great to get to know an intergenerational crowd of longtime residents from all kinds of life backgrounds and careers. It feels like a cozy little village in a big city."

What's next: Interested would-be tenants can contact Oak Park Commons to sign up for the next informational Zoom meeting on Feb. 9.


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